Rabbi Avraham Elkana Kahana Shapira

The growth of a LeaderHis Leadershipדרכו בתורהתפקידיו הציבוריים

Rabbi Avraham Elkana Kahana Shapira was born on 19 Iyar 1914 in Jerusalem to his father, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Shapira, who was a member of a rooted Jerusalem family and attributed to the Gaonim and Tzaddikim generation after generation. Family was the sixth generation descendants of students of the Gaon of Vilna, who immigrated to Eretz Israel in order to renew the Jewish community there. Already in his childhood he stood out and because of his unique talents was viewed as one who would become a great leader in Israel. Even when he was young people gathered around him and accompanied him.

First connection at the age of twelve

He began his studies at the “Etz Chaim” Talmud Torah in the “Hurva” in the Old City, with the famous “teachers” in their righteousness and learning in Jerusalem (first with Rabbi Eli Salomon zt “l, later with Rabbi Chaim Menachem Mendelson, Rabbi Yosef Lomzer zt “l Rabbi Chaim of Zt” l and others). He then continued at the Tiferet Zvi Yeshiva. When he was twelve years old, with the encouragement of his teacher Rabbi Chaim Kalman zt “l, he wrote his first book on the subject of making halachic purchases and called it” The Ways of Buyers. ” After the 1929 riots, the Hebron Yeshiva (Slobodka) moved to Jerusalem, and many of the Torah scholars continued to study in this yeshiva, headed by Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein. . At that time Reb Avrum also went to study at the Hebron Yeshiva. By the time he arrived at the Hebron Yeshiva, he had already learned three of the six sections of the Talmud. On one of his first days in the Hebron Yeshiva, during a shiur at the yeshiva of the Gaon Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein zt “l, he asked a tremendous question during the . The Gaon of blessed memory stopped the lesson for a few seconds, thought about things, and then continued the lesson as if nothing had been hardened. At the beginning of the next general shiur, the Talmudic questioner asks: “Where is the little one (Reb Avrum was young then was of low stature) that made the difficulty in the previous shiur with his question?” After they found him, he went on with a lesson that was based on the question. Since then, his name in the Hebron Yeshiva has been known as a prodigy.

Negotiations with the Leaders of Israel

During his first years in the Hebron Yeshiva, he learned Torah with great effort, out of great devotion and difficulty.. His diligence in Torah and his insistence on it were boundless. In those years, he was so persistent in Torah that he did not know who was sitting next to him. Once he said: “During the first two years of the Hebron Yeshiva I learned most of the Talmud, the rest of my life was a continuation of those two years.”
Over the years he grew up and became one of the lions of the group in the great Yeshiva of Hebron, and his name became known throughout the world of the Torah as a genius and righteous. The greatest of the generation at the time, corresponded with him and negotiated with him on various matters of halakhah. They saw him as someone who would be great in Israel. Among them was Rabbi Kook zt “l, in whom Reb Avrum mentioned in that through these discussions he could discern his genius.
The Gaon Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer zt “l, the great Rosh Yeshiva of Etz Chaim, printed the questions of Reb Avrum in his book Even ha-Ezel and answered them. In his letter, he addressed him: “To my friend the great Gaon Rabbi Avraham Shapira, who is a resident of Hebron,” ,while Rev Avrum was his twenties. In those years, the Gaon Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank zt “l, the great rabbi of Jerusalem, asked his Rav Avrum to add explanatory notes to his writings, and they held many correspondences in writing (these corresponences were published in the book of Minchat Avraham in the second section), even before Rabbi Shapira wasmarried. He also had a unique relationship with the Hazon Ish zt “l. Rabbi Shapira spoke with him a great deal in learning, and the Chazon Ish very much wanted him to come to Bnei Brak and teach in the Ponevezh yeshiva, but Rabbeinu did not respond to the proposal even when he came from Rabbi Kahneman zt “l, Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh. On the other hand, he accepted Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda’s offer to serve as Rosh Yeshiva in Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, because he was interested in disseminating the Torah according to the approach of Maran HaRav Ztz “

In Jerusalem it was known that every time the Rebbe’s Torah novellae were published, the Gaon Rabbi Yitzchak Ze’ev HaLevi Soloveitchik (z “l) wished to see them. When they held seven brachos in honor of his son, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt “l, who was Reb Avrum’s friend, he asked questions on bridegroom’s sermon, as is normal in Torah. There was a hustle and bustle in the house of Rabbi Yitzchak Ze’ev Soloveitchik and they tried to hush them all, but the Rabbi asked again, “What are the questions of Rabbi Avraham Elkana?” When he heard the objections, and himself decided to answer the questions, but Reb Avrum continued to make more questions and the whole house became a mess.

What will they say in Bnei Brak?

Rabbi Dov Berish Weidenfeld zt “l, who was known as one of the greatest of his generation, held many debates with him and would see him as the future leader of Klal Yisrael. Later, when the Chazon Ish died, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Bromberg zt “l entered the Rabbi of Tchebin and asked:” Who will be the greatest of the generation? ” “I do not know what they will say in Bnei Brak, but I say that Rabbi Avraham Shapira is the greatest of the next generation”.

During this period, the students of the Hebron Yeshiva drank thirstily for the words of our teacher, and were waiting to speak with him in study of various matters in Shas. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Toker shlita, one of the veterans of the Hebron Yeshiva, recounted how on one Simchat Torah during the Hakofot, the righteous Ga’on Rabbi Hirsch Pali zt “l, who was the Mashgiach in Yeshivat Chevron, banged on the bimah and announced that Reb Avrum was the greatest of the generation. The yeshiva students immediately asked to raise Reb Avrum on their shoulders who sat on the side and studied, but he opposed it.
Intention at Prayer At that time our rabbi prayed in Mea She’arim. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt “l also used to pray there. Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah zt “l was very impressed by the prayers of Rabbeinu and since then they have been bound by the bonds of love. A special force of prayer was for our teacher. In his last four years, he stopped eating bread on weekdays. When his Rebbitzen asked him why the change he responded that he found himself lacking the ability to recite the Birkat Hamazon anymore with proper intention. He arrived at Mercaz HaRav in 5745 (1945), after his marriage to the sister of Rabbi Shalom Natan Raanan zt “l, who was the son-in-law of Rabbi Kook zt “l, at the request of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda zt” l, and then began to devote himself to the students of Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva. When the Gaon Rabbi Ya’akov Moshe Harlap weakened and began his last illness, he asked Reb Avrum to give the main lectures in the yeshiva. Since then, he started teaching Torah and raising generations of students at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav, while at the same time bearing the burden of the public. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda zt “l consulted with Reb Avrum and took his Torah opinion in many wide ranging issues.

Appointment of Rabbi Shapira to the Av Beit Din based on the insistence of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu

In 1956, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Herzog, asked to appoint Reb Avrum, who was a regular visitor, to the Bet Din in Jerusalem. At first he did not want to accept his request, only after his great friend, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita, pleaded with him. In the Beit Din, his great understanding was found all parts of the Torah was revealed. In one of his responsa, Rabbi Feinstein wrote about Rav Avrum, who was then forty-six years old: “The strong Rav and the rest of the sages of Jerusalem, who are worthy of teaching all the Torah and what I am against them.” When he was in court, he became friendly with his friends who also sat and judged the people, among them Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Shlita and Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Shlita. Among the dayanim were also his longtime friends from the Hebron and Jerusalem yeshivas, Rabbi Goren zt “l and the gaon Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt” l, author of the Tzitz Eliezer.
From 1971, he served as the head of the Beit Din. In 1974, when he was appointed Dayan at the Great Court, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was supposed to be Av Beit Din in the composition of the dayanim according to the procedure of the Beit Din. Rabbi Eliahu shlita insisted that Rabbeinu was to occupy that place. Only after he had been assured that his request would be fullfiled did Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu shlita agree be seated. In 1980 he was elected as a member of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. During this period, he was chosen to serve as a member of the Harry Fischel Institute’s Legislation Department and as the Chief Curator of the Fussky Treasury.

Rabbi Avraham Elkana Kahana Shapira, was a Gaon and Posek, the chief rabbi of the Land of Israel and a leader of the community. He was known for his greatness in the Torah, his lofty qualities, and his practical approach to every subject. But he always said that he was first and foremost a “Rosh Yeshiva.” In the sixty years that he taught Torah at Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, he established a Torah community in the Land of Israel. Many yeshivas, ulpanot and high school yeshivas were encouraged and supported by him all over the country, and he devoted his life all his life to placing students in the thousands, his concern and his love for them was boundless.
His rulings during his thirty years in the rabbinical courts are a source of originality and logic according to the law of the Torah. His name preceded him from his youth as a clear scholar in all the Torah chambers

For this reason, he was chosen to serve as a member of the Harry Fischel Institute’s Legislation Department and as the Chief Auditor of the Rabbinical Court. In his capacity as chief rabbi, he strengthened the Chief Rabbinate’s system in several areas: expanding supervision of kashrut, promoting the status of rabbis and dayanim, forging close ties with the greatest rabbis in the Diaspora, and answering numerous questions. He also initiated the establishment of Kolim throughout the country, whose lecturers were sent to Torah and educational activities abroad.

When cracks were discovered in the intentions to preserve the integrity of the land among the leaders of the state, he bravely stood on guard, and as opposed to all those who stuttered and fervently fought for the integrity of our Holy Land. Similarly, he insisted that the Hallel should be recited on Independence Day and that nothing should be changed in prayer for the welfare of the State, since the very existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel is a tremendous spiritual matter. Torah and ways of life. His door was always open to every questioner until his very last days, and all with joy and joy as his pure and wise eyes penetrated deep into the soul of the questioner.

Chief Rabbi of Eretz Israel

Despite the fact that political decisions were made in the Knesset, he strove with all his might to continue serving Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren and Rabbi Ovdia Yoesph of Israel. After his efforts were unsuccessful, he was appointed on 1 Nissan 5743 (1983) to serve as Chief Rabbi of Israel, together with Rabbi Eliyahu Eliyahu Shlit “a. During these years, he fought with great vigor to place the Torah of Israel as the measuring stick in all spheres of life in the State of Israel. His important rulings as head of the Rabbinical court for the Land of Israel are known among other things, his decisions regarding the determination of the time of death, and the Jewish status of Ethiopian immigrants. In his capacity as chief rabbi, he strengthened the Chief Rabbinate’s system in several areas: expanding supervision of kashrut, promoting the status of rabbis and dayanim, forging close ties with the greatest rabbis in the Diaspora, and answering numerous questions. He also initiated the establishment of Kolim throughout the country, whose lecturers were sent to Torah and educational activities abroad

The battle against the intention to cut out parts of our land

The battle against the intention to cut out parts of our land began already in Yamit. During his last illness, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda was sent to instruct the public on how to act against the expulsion, and sent Reb Avrum to speak on his behalf. Even when he was the chief rabbi of Eretz Yisrael he fought that no part of the Land of Israel should be handed over to foreigners, and then, during the Oslo Accords and the Wye Agreement, he again declared his opinion that the soldier was forbidden to violate Torah laws and that he should refuse to obey an order to expel Jews from their homes. Again in Gush Katif he reiterated his stance to refuse orders to give the land to foreigners,and stood as a lion in his watch, He also stood firm after the expulsion, saying that Hallel should still be recited on Independence Day, that nothing should be changed in prayer for the welfare of the state, and that the very existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel was a spiritual matter, by which the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel is fulfilled.


All his life he fought for the truth, without any touches or personal appeals. He didn’t tolerated lies and never strayed from the straight path.Most was based on the way he lived his life: modesty and simple. Even as the Chief Rabbi of Israel, he lived in a tiny apartment in Geula with dilapidated furniture. Even when he moved to the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, near the yeshiva, he lived in a modest apartment that was completely simple. He never let people escort him or be treated with graunders of honor.

Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav Yeshiva

As early as 1977, Rabbeinu was appointed by Rav Tzvi Yehuda zt “l to serve as Rosh Yeshiva. In 1982, with the passing of the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah zt “l, Reb Avrum continued to lead the yeshiva together with Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli zt” l until the end of his life. Even though he served many positions as a posek, Chief Rabbi, and leader of the generation, he always said that he was first and foremost a “Rosh Yeshiva.” In the 60 years that he spread Torah in Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, Reb Avrum established a Torah oleh in Eretz Yisrael. Many yeshivas, ulpanot and high-school yeshivas were encouraged and supported by him throughout the country. He gave his life all his life to put students to thousands, his concern and love for them was boundless. Even in difficult times when his health was poor, yeshiva students were his primary concern. It is noted that on the 25 th of Shevat 5766, at the time of the “Amona” events, in which hundreds of demonstrators, including yeshiva students, were injured by the police forces of the Israel Police, the he i refused to give shuir klali(the main lecture to the whole yeshiva), saying that while the people of Israel are in trouble, it is not able to transfer a shiur. However a special shiur was held at his home on Saturday night in the books of the author of the Koseit HaChoshen and . They would decide a little while before the lesson about which mark the lesson would deal with In the last years of his life, he appointed his son and disciple who did not leave his hand, the head of the yeshiva, the Gaon Rabbi Ya’akov Elazar Kahana Shapira, to give general lessons to him at the yeshiva

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